- Tell us your story. How did Worldwide Friends get started?
Worldwide Friends Iceland (WF) was founded in 2001 as a non-governmental, non-profit organisation promoting nature and peace-oriented activities among people. Friendship is the foundation for peace in this world and taking care of mother earth and each other is the goal of our organisation.
- What differentiates Worldwide Friends from its competitors?
We have various locations around Iceland, offering a wide variety of projects to choose from. Some projects include different activities within the same location, providing options to make the experience more interactive and less repetitive. Additionally, we have centres in each quarter of the island where we prioritise nature conservation and provide environmental education to our international volunteers.
- What is your favourite success story from your organisation?
A total of 5,800 km of coastline was cleaned between 2001 and 2022, resulting in the collection of approximately 900 tonnes of plastic. Additionally, we actively engage in Landcare and deforestation efforts across the entire island. We take immense pride in hosting 20,789 international volunteers from 103 different countries. It is worth noting that this year, a large group of volunteers who stayed with us 10 years ago will be having a reunion at our organisation, which demonstrates the significant impact we have on our participants.
- What can we expect to see from Worldwide Friends in the future?
Our aim is to be a leading organization promoting a healthy lifestyle and fostering a better relationship between people and mother earth. We focus on projects that promote sustainability, circular economy, and education based on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
• Brú Special Project (2023-2025): We are working on activating the hydraulic power plant to serve as a clean energy source for our houses.
• Krýsuvík Geopark Sustainable Centre is a unique place on Earth where our volunteers grow their own food using geothermal energy from the ground, eliminating the need for trips to supermarkets.
• We strive to be a leading organization worldwide in educating people about sustainable living.
- Which trends do you see in educational and active youth travel?
Participants want to feel engaged and active in topics related to environmental protection. They want to be able to see their impact in the short and long term. They are also looking for solutions and knowledge about climate change and how to fight it.
- How do you work to ensure the health and safety of young travellers involved with Worldwide Friends?
We fully train our staff. We conduct a thorough selectivion process for our Camp Leaders, who receive training on arrival before joining the volunteer programmes. We monitor our projects directly by having a Project Manager onsite. In addition, we provide reasonably priced excursions for participants, so they do not have to travel within Iceland by themselves.
- What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?
We believe in international cooperation. Today the endeavour of attaining world peace has become a tangible possibility and the development and strengthening of bonds of cooperation and friendship through contact with people from other countries and cultures has proven to be one of the most fruitful means of achieving understanding and unity among nations.
8. What is an industry challenge your organisation is facing currently?
You can still see the aftermath of COVID. Some nationalities that used to join us before the pandemic still face travel restrictions, making it more challenging to travel.